*A Journal Made Exclusively By Women and For Women*
The "Female Spectator"
There is no other woman in the eighteenth century who was a prolific novelist-romanciere of the early eighteenth century, with secret histories to her credit, with more than sixty novels and romances, and who was still able to remain slightly unknown, none other than the controversy-sparking Eliza Haywood, the great woman writer of the eighteenth century. It is her own self-imposed secrecy concerning her private life that makes her even more intriguing. Hidden behind the guise of her numerous heroines, Eliza Haywood quite simply remains a mystery, a mystery that offered thousands of other women the advice they needed to survive their lives and relationships within eighteenth century culture.
Born in London, around 1693, Haywood was educated grounded in far more liberal conceptions than was ordinarily allowed to the "persons of her sex," as she often remarks in her female journal The Female Spectator. The few facts that exist about Haywood are quickly told. She was raised mostly by her father who was a small shopkeeper or hosier, a fact that Haywood later suppressed. In 1710 she married Reverend Mr. Valentine Haywood and had a son, Charles, one year later.
Haywood began her interest in writing with the upcoming and popular field of drama, specifically, stage plays. In 1715, she made a stage debut in the play Timon of Athens. During the Restoration, the stage had become a primary source of female employment. Aphra Behn and Delariviere Manley had also supported themselves early in their careers by similar dramatic efforts. However, Haywood's success on the stage was limited, and she quickly turned to playwriting as a more certain way of earning a living. After abandoning the theatre, she won the adoration of the public with her first novel, Love in Excess, or, The Fatal Inquiry. Always writing of "love in excess," Haywood became best known for her works of passionate intrigue and amorous adventure.
Haywood's fame rests upon her success as a popular novelist. The years from 1719 to 1756 she produced over sixty novels. During this time, she was also busy writing essays, editing periodicals, and composing guide books on manners and social behavior. The guide books led to a further exploration of a female writing about female issues. Haywood's devices for maintaining the curiosity and the interest of her readers included letters from correspondents who reported their personal problems or social complaints. Those types of letters were compiled into her creation of The Female Spectator. In that monthly journal, she further established her prominent scandalous female voice. That monthly journal became so popular that Haywood also created The Parrot. Overall, Haywood's method of writing adapted to her audience's preferences and expectations, and as you will notice with her comments to the women of Sex and the City, she always had great comments and advice for women of every time period.